It was announced on Twitter on Thursday that the Snookerbacker Classic will not be held this season.
After a roller coaster few months of negotiating, head-scratching and soul searching, the man behind the Snookerbacker website and creator of the SB Classic has decided to shut up shop – for the time being at least.
He today said on his blog: “I’m not sure whether this will just be a brief break away from the amateur snooker scene or whether it’s more than that. I may use it to recharge the batteries or I may decide that it’s quite nice not having the hassle of all the hard work that it entails.
“We’ve had five fantastic years and five fantastic champions in Martin O’Donnell, David Gray, Ant Parsons, Brett Miller and the current champion Sam Craigie, two of whom are making great strides on the main tour. We’ve given away over £50,000 in prize money, we’ve had numerous mentions on national television and media, we’ve seen a number of players pass through the classic on their way to greater things, most notably the runner up in 2013 Kyren Wilson, who is now heading towards the very pinnacle of the professional game.
“I like to think that it has contributed in some way to some players careers and I’ve also made a lot of personal friends through it. All this from sitting up in bed one day deciding to run a snooker tournament.”
It’s a great shame that this excellent and popular tournament, which has continued to grow year on year since its inception in 2011, is now off the calendar in the UK.
Yet, the reasons are sound, with time, the extensive work and cost involved, along with a lack of incentive from the professional governing body in support, all being cited for the decision.
The last factor was perhaps the specific nail in the coffin, with the WPBSA and World Snooker unable to meet Snookerbacker’s ambitious, though arguably reasonable, demands to be granted a tour card for the Classic winner.
I remember attending an event during the Snookerbacker Classic’s first season when it made its one and only trip to Ireland.
Jonathan Williams and John Sutton qualified from the CrossGuns leg in Dublin and would each go on to the semi-finals of the Grand Final, with Sutton eventually losing to inaugural champion Martin O’Donnell in the final – O’Donnell now competing strongly on the pro circuit.
The event never took off in Ireland after that unfortunately as the players failed to grasp the opportunity at their midst but that could not be said for the eager cueists across the Irish Sea.
By its fifth staging, the competition had grown so much in popularity that the likes of then world champion Stuart Bingham and Crucible king Steve Davis were on board as financial sponsors.
It will be interesting to see if anybody in the UK, or even Ireland, can fill the void that will be left by the Snookerbacker Classic’s absence this term.
With its demise and the reconstruction of the European Tour leaving a distinctly dwindled pro/am scene, the opportunities for amateurs in the area for hardened matchplay experience have been seriously diminished.